December 9, 2012 Book List
Monday, December 10, 2012
Cross Country Checkup's Christmas Reading List
December 9, 2012
Shawn Atleo's suggestions
National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations
The Inconvenient Indian, by Thomas King (Doubleday Canada)
"I'm a big fan of Thomas King, first of all. He's an incredible writer, a true artist. It's a brilliantly written book that captures both the pain, the long dark shadow of time, but he tells these stories in a way that brings out the wit and humour. As challenging as life's been for our people, our people manage to keep that humour."
What is America, by Ronald Wright (Knopf Canada)
"It's a straightforward telling the truth, pulling back the myth. He talks about Indians and the first major - as he tells it - "ethnic cleansing." It's a stomping on the [North American] myth of manifest destiny, that people could come and take over the land and move aside what were in those days refer to as savages."
Principles of Tsawalk, by Dr. Richard Atleo (UBC Press)
"This is a book of worldview and philosophy from a First Nations perspective. It really builds on what Ronald Wright says, what Thomas King says, that we are a people with a strong history of order, and having a worldview of interconnectedness."
Francoise Baylis' suggestions
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University
Still Alice, by Lisa Genova (Pocket Books) and Turn of the Mind by Alice LaPlante, (Atlantic Monthly Press)
"What these books do, in a very keen way, is give you a look into the mind of the person with Alzheimer's disease."
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, by Michael J. Sandel (MacMillan)
"He asks a critically important question for our time: 'is there something wrong with a world in which everything has a price?'"
Peter Stockland's suggestions
Publisher Convivium magazine, former editor-in-chief of the Montreal Gazette, former editorial page editor of the Calgary Herald and author of a book of short stories, If Only, published by Siren Song Press
The short stories of Flannery O'Connor (MacMillan)
"I have a ritual: at the beginning of December, I read a short story by Flannery O'Connor every day. There are 31 short stories in her complete short stories, so it fits very nicely into the calendar. O'Connor is often seen as a very dark, gothic writer. But she's also an extremely funny writer. If you want to read about humanity, and why humanity needed a savior, the best place to go is Flannery O'Connor's short stories."
The short stories of G. K. Chesterton (Penguin)
"If O'Connor is the dark shadows of the Gothic south, then Chesterton is the congenial lamp of the local pub."
The short stories of Saul Bellow (Penguin)
"He's the only Canadian-born writer to have won a Nobel Prize for Literature. He's a master at evoking memory and writing about our ability to forget, our ability to erase, but then being tugged back by memory to what's important."
Recommendations made online and read on-air by Rex
The Taliban Don't Wave, by Rob Semrau (Wiley)
"I couldn't put it down. It highlights the experiences of a Canadian in Afghanistan. Former officer Semrau is blunt and doesn't hold back. I wish more [soldiers] would come forward with their stories so that Canadians can get a full picture of what we did in Afghanistan."
Agent ZigZag: The Best Spy in World War II, and Operation Mincemeat: The Best Deception in World War II, by Ben McIntyre (Bloomsbury)
The Inspector Stride series by Thomas Randall Curran (Breakwater Books)
"A great plot-builder, for those who know [St. John's, where the books are set]...both writers are great at creating visuals."
Suggestions by Callers
A Small Miracle, by Peter Collington (Random House)
"What I love about this book is that it has no words...it's all done in pictures. It crosses generations."
Joyner's Dream, by Sylvia Tyson (HarperCollins Canada)
"It's sadly flown under the radar in Canadian literature. I don't devour books these days like I used to as a younger man, but this one I did devour."
Sleeping Island, by Prentice J. Downes (first published in 1939, now out of print)
"It's a great piece of Canadiana, for anyone who likes to read about the outdoors."
To End All Wars, by Adam Hoschild (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
"Hoschild is an American journalist, and he tends to write history. It's about the conscientious objectors during the First World War. He brings a lot of the personalities of the people involved."
Wild Geese, by Martha Oskenso (first published in 1925, republished in 2008 by McClelland and Stewart)
"Loosely based on the author's own experience as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse. It grabbed my attention because I really connected with many of the characters that she wrote about."
The Tunnels series, by Roger Gordon and Brian Williams (The Chicken House)
Our 11-year-old caller says: "It's very action-packed. I think that other people should read it because it's got some humour in it. It's a series. I've read three and I'm working on the fourth."
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster)
The definitive biography of the founder of Apple. Our caller says: "There's one line that changed my life forever: 'the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.' It inspired me to quit my job."
Maddie Mitchel: Newfoundland's Greatest Frontiersman, by Gary Collins (Flanker Press)
"Maddie Mitchel was my great-grandfather, a Micmac Indian born in 1844. It's about his life and times. His main claim to fame was the discovery of a major ore mine, and he spent a lot of his life guiding Newfoundland geologists all over Newfoundland."
So That the Poem Remains, by Youssef Abdul Samad (Agio)
"Beautiful poetry from the Arab world...shows the literary talent [of that part of the world]."
Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace (Back Bay Books)
"The one thing I'll say about it is that David Foster Wallace is the only writer other than Farley Mowat who can make me laugh out loud while I'm reading. I was surprised because even though Wallace was an American author, there's a huge amount of Canadian content in this book!"
The Canterwood Crest series, by Jessica Burkhart (Aladdin)
Our 9-year-old caller says: "It's a series about a new who comes to Canterwood Crest (a boarding school) and she makes friends, but it's also a competition because they learn to ride horses...it's sort of like a war/horse competition."
Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa (Bloomsbury)
"I'm recommending it because I think it's very topical at the moment...[the author] is a young Palestinian who is writing about a woman's life in Palestine. It's a novel. It was recommended to me by a young Jewish man and his Palestinian girlfriend."
Carry on Jeeves, by PG Wodehouse (Arrow)
"It contains my favourite line of all time: 'she fitted into my biggest armchair as if it had been built around her by someone who knew they were wearing armchairs tight around the hips that season.' He's the greatest writer ever."
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce (Bond Street Books)
"It's the story of a man who is recently retired who lives in England with his wife. He receives a letter from a friend who is dying...he writes a very quick note and goes to go post it, and he takes off with just the letter and goes to a post office and walks by and he's not ready to mail the letter yet so he keeps walking. It's about him discovering himself and the world and where he fits in it."
Giant, by Aga Maksimowska (Pedlar Press)
"I was awed by the book. It's about a working family in post-Communist Poland. The marriage breaks up and the mother emigrates to Toronto, and a couple of years later the two eldest daughters join her in Toronto - the second half of the book takes place in Toronto and talks about their adjustment to Canadian life... It's so realistic and vivid"
Six Months in Sudan, by James Maskalyk (Anchor Canada)
"It's written by a physician. It's the story of a young physician working in a war-torn village. Maskalyk is an ER physician in Toronto, but this was his first assignment with Doctors Without Borders."
The Water Rat of Wanchai, by Ian Hamilton (House of Anansi Press)
A 16-year-old caller recommends her grandfather's book: "It's a very upbeat crime novel. It keeps you interested. It's really upbeat, and it's intense - you never want to put it down."
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (Random House)
"The movie's in theatres now. There's six different novels within this one, stretching from 200 years in the past to several hundred years in the future. The central theme is that our crimes and our kindnesses live beyond us."
Proof of Heaven, by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)
"It's about [a neurosurgeon's] experience of being in a terminal coma for seven days, and coming right back to normal. I couldn't put it down, and I've bought several copies for friends. I just lost a very good friend, and it sort of makes you think about where things go as you get older. This particular book gives you an amazing...lack of fear of the future."
The Nancy Drew mysteries by Caroline Keene (Aladdin)
From a 7-year-old caller: "I don't really like storybooks, I really like mysteries."
Snakebit, by Les Anthony (Greystone Books)
"His marriage between the world of science, all the different species and characters who make up the world of herpetology, and also his ability to speak about the excitement of travels."
Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg (Berkley Trade)
"Whenever people think of Lindbergh, they think of his solo flight that he made, or they think of the baby who was kidnapped. But reading this I realized there's so much more to the person - the work he did in organ transplants, the space program, politics. He's sort of a man of the past, but a man of the present, too."
Hominids, by Robert Sawyer (Tor)
A 12-year-old caller's first sci-fi: "I read Hominids and fell in love with science fiction. It's about this experiment that went wrong, and a portal opens to a parallel universe where instead of Neanderthals being dead and us homo sapiens being alive, it's the reverse, and it turns out that the Neanderthals are 10% smarter than us and they have tons of fancy technology that we don't have."
Men for the Mountains, by Sid Marty (McClelland and Stewart)
"It's a book that he wrote about his times with Parks Canada. Lots of really good Canadiana. Some good humour in it, it's just a fantastic read. It's really easy reading."
Mercator, Nicholas Crane (first published in 2003, now out of print)
"It is absolutely one of the most fascinating books I have ever read. I was not aware how the British Empire was built - sailors would come back from journeys across the seas, and they would tell of islands that they found, and they would give this information to the mapmakers and they mapped the world."
Suggestions from Rex (not made on-air)
Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius, by Ray Monk (Penguin)
"An excellent bio of the philosopher and eccentric."
The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War, by Alexander Waugh (Anchor)
"A fascinating family bio by an author who comes from another famous family."
The Jelly Bean Row, by Susan Pynn Taylor, illustrated by Lizz Pratt (Tuckamore Books)
"A children's book with stories and captivating illustrations from one of St. John's, Nfld. most famous streets."
Collected Fictions, by Jorge Luis Borges and translated by Andrew Hurley (Penguin) and
Borges: Selected Non-Fictions, by Jorge Luis Borges, Eliot Weinberger, Esther Allen and Suzanne Jill Levine (Penguin)
"His genius is his turn of imagination that makes his essays read like fiction and his stories read like non-fiction."
War Music: An Account of Books 1-4 and 16-19 of Homer's Iliad, by Christopher Logue (University of Chicago Press)
"This is a re-casting of the Homeric Iliad and is one of the best." Rex says he's read it several times -- it's so good
Paradise Lost: Parallel Prose Edition, by John Milton and Dennis Danielson (Broadview Press)
"A marvellous "help" for those who find the first attempt to ascend Paradise Lost arduous and sometimes baffling. The air is thin up there but the view is peerless. Done by the Professor who also selected the essays for the Cambridge Milton."